“Online backup has gone from an educational process to which vendor should I choose.”
That’s the state of online backup according to AmeriVault’s CIO, Kevin Harris. In the 10 years since he and CEO Bud Stoddard founded AmeriVault, he has seen tremendous changes in customer perceptions and understanding about online backup.
Back then the Internet was still in its infancy and the idea of using online backup to send data over the Internet was a “scary thing” in the eyes of prospective AmeriVault clients. Harris says, “We had to prove everything including how we would backup data, how they would recover data and if it was secure and safe.”
In 2007 these issues are largely laid to rest as most prospective customers now understand how it works. The larger problem Harris deals with now is how does AmeriVault differentiate itself? Customers can now go out to Google, do a search on online backup and get 30 pages of hits on companies that provide online backup. Since they all look the same based on Google search results, now the first question prospective clients are most likely to ask is, “What vendor should I choose?”
Choosing a vendor based on the lowest price is simply not enough anymore since, as Harris puts it, “online backup prices are all over the map”. There are multiple criteria to consider when selecting a managed service provider and many now use the same underlying backup software to provide online backup services. In this competitive environment, Harris says one of AmeriVault’s differentiators is to offer a “high touch” approach.
Harris points to AmeriVault’s call center as one of the ways they deliver on that promise. Though businesses can contact AmeriVault by email, when they need to recover data they almost always use the phone. To make good on that promise, AmeriVault has its own people answering calls but during periods of high call volumes, AmeriVault contracts with a third party answering service to answer the overflow who immediately contact AmeriVault. ‘No one is ever stuck leaving a voice message,” promises Harris.
Providing service level agreements is the other primary way that Harris sees as an AmeriVault differentiator. AmeriVault guarantees three 9’s of uptime (99.9% system availability) and response times of two hours or less on all customer calls on or off business hours. “As far as I know, we are the only managed service provider in the industry that provides these types of guarantees,” says Harris.
As AmeriVault’s CIO Harris astutely points out, “high touch” will become, if it is not already, a key to customers to selecting the right provider of online backup services for them. Google makes it easy to find scores of providers whose offerings on the surface may look very similar and provide no easy way to differentiate between providers. By wrapping “high touch” around online backup services and then stamping it with a guarantee, AmeriVault makes the choice of an online backup provider an easier one to make.